- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is attending the National Governors Association meeting in the District for the next few days and is expected to participate in seminars on education policy, the environment and economic development.

The group’s annual winter meeting began Saturday and will continue until tomorrow at the J.W. Marriott Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

“It is great to be here with other people who have this important and difficult job and to see things they’re doing that are important and innovative,” said Mr. O’Malley, who was elected in November and is attending the meeting for the first time. “You’re standing with people who have been studying the course for four years versus you walking in on the first day of law school.”

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, could take advantage of such groups to build the kind of national profile he would need if he decides to seek higher office.

“It’s a great platform, without a doubt, to chair the nation’s governors,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican who was the group’s chairman in 2005 and 2006 and is now running for president. “You’re dealing with the nuts and bolts of domestic policy. You have a national platform to articulate a message … and afterwards, you end up making a number of contacts throughout the country.”

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, tended to avoid the meetings, even when they were in the District. Previous Maryland governors frequently attended them, and the state has produced five chairmen in the group’s 99-year history, including Parris N. Glendening and Marvin Mandel, both Democrats.

Mr. O’Malley has a history of getting involved in national groups. For example, he was chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s homeland security committee.

Chairman Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s Democratic governor, made innovation in education and economic development the signature issue of her one-year term, and governors are scheduled to spend the next few days talking about that idea and other topics they deal with on a daily basis in the state capitals.

Governors who have stepped into prominent roles in the group frequently have become major players in national politics.

Mr. O’Malley said Saturday that political networking wasn’t on his mind, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“That’s a fourth- or fifth-level benefit of coming here,” he said.


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